Pennsylvania State Government Business Grants for Women

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Pennsylvania is a state nationally recognized for its high level of women-owned business participation. The National Women’s Business Council reported in 2004 that Pennsylvania was among the top five states for growth in employment among women-owned businesses. Many state and federal organizations provide resources to women-owned businesses to ensure that this trend continues. In addition to grants and loans, resources available to women include entrepreneurial courses and financial counseling to help make the most of funding.

Women-Owned Business Certification

Minority-owned and women-owned businesses in Pennsylvania can gain access to certain resources by gaining certification as a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE) or women-owned business enterprise (WBE). To qualify as a WBE, the business must be a for-profit company with fewer than 100 employees, owned by a woman and 51 percent controlled by women. The company must be in business for at least one year or have an approved two-year business plan. WBE Certification is a service provided by the Bureau of Minority and Women Business Opportunities. Certification is required to take advantage of many of the state’s other resources for women in business.

Bureau of Minority and Women Business Opportunities 502 North Office Building Harrisburg, PA 17125 717-787-7380

Disadvantaged Business Program

The Disadvantaged Business Program is a Pennsylvania initiative that gives disadvantaged businesses, including women-owned companies, the opportunity to participate as government contractors. Because most women-owned businesses are not large enough to compete successfully for government contracts on their own, the program encourages larger contractors to seek out women-owned and minority-owned businesses when fulfilling subcontracting needs. For women-owned businesses to participate, they must register as a WBE with the state of Pennsylvania.

Bureau of Minority and Women Business Opportunities 502 North Office Building Harrisburg, PA 17125 717-787-7380

Women’s Business Development Center

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), an organization partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, provides business resources for women in the greater Philadelphia area. Resources include entrepreneurial training for starting and growing a business and financial planning. While the WBDC does not sponsor any small business grants of its own, the WBDC provides counseling to assist women business owners in managing finances and putting together loan application packages. The WBDC also holds workshops to assist women in finding grants and loans to fund their businesses, and offers financial aid for low-income women to participate in WBDC courses and workshops free of charge. If you are a woman interested in starting a child care business in particular, the WBDC holds step-by-step courses that walk through starting and managing such a business.

Women’s Business Development Center 1315 Walnut St., Suite 1116 Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-790-9232

Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority

The Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority provides funding for minority-owned businesses through low-interest loans. Women of color can seek up to $500,000 for manufacturing, international trade or franchise operations, and up to $250,000 for retail and commercial businesses. Prospective business owners can apply for this and other grants available to all Pennsylvania residents using the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development incentive finder.

Department of Community and Economic Development 400 North St., 4th Floor Harrisburg, PA 17120 800-379-7448

Office of Women’s Business Ownership

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership is an initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration and not limited to the state of Pennsylvania. The agency offers resources to assist women business owners in starting and building a small business, and has links to Women’s Business Center grant opportunities. As of 2010, grant opportunities were available only to renew existing Women’s Business Center grants following successful completion. However, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership keeps an updated list on their grants page that includes internal grant opportunities, necessary application forms and a link to search for other federal grants.

Office of Women’s Business Ownership Small Business Administration 409 3rd St. SW, 6th Floor Washington, DC 20416 202-205-6673



About the Author

Lesley Graybeal has been writing articles for internet content since 2006. Her work can be found on a range of hobby and business resource web publications, including and, as well as several academic journals. Lesley earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from the University of Georgia, and is currently completing her dissertation in Social Foundations of Education.

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